Sermons

Summary: Series in Romans

Text: Romans 6:15-23

Title: Are You a Slave to Sin or a Slave to God?

Romans 6:15-23 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I. Slave to sin

a. Death

b. Impurity and lawlessness

c. Worthlessness

II. Slave to God

a. Righteousness

b. Sanctification

c. Eternal life

I’m going to start today with a brief description of a couple of competing theological ideas that clashed about twenty years ago. As a student of theology I have always been most interested in those in-house theological debates. Those debates between Christians and other Christians. Those areas of difference of opinion that still fall within orthodoxy.

Some examples of in-house debates are things like free will vs. predestination; the nature of sign gifts; the effects of post-modernism and the Emergent Church.

Well in the late 1980’s there was this heated debate over something called “Lordship Salvation”. Simply stated lordship salvation maintains that good works will be a necessary consequence or outcome of being declared righteous by God. If a person is truly saved, they will act like it. If a person has made a genuine commitment to Christ then Christ will not just be their savior, but also their Lord.

So a person who lives in open rebellion to God, wallowing in sin, unable or unwilling to abandon their old sinful lifestyle, is most likely not really a believer. That person might think they are saved and even say that they are saved, but they don’t act like it. They don’t live like it. They seem to only be giving God lip service.

The flip side of this argument came from those in the “Free Grace Movement”. They taught that salvation was a free gift of God’s grace, it is based on the work of Christ on the cross, and it comes simply as a result of faith, even childlike faith. This free gift of salvation is not dependant on a person’s past behavior, or their future behavior.

Those on the free grace side would claim that lordship salvation is almost a kind of works religion. Because lordship salvation seems to teach that good works are a requirement for true salvation. Are good works an ingredient in our salvation or an evidence of it? This is an important distinction to make. And obviously those on the Lordship salvation side would not claim that works are a requirement for salvation, but the confusion is still there.

Here’s my take on this controversy, and keep in mind, this is only my opinion. If you have strong feelings one way or the other I’m OK with that. Remember, this is an in-house debate. Anyway, I’ve always felt that the lordship salvation side suffered from one major flaw. It tries to discern someone else’s heart. It attempts to judge whether or not someone else is saved.

It also presupposes that the sanctification process should be pretty much the same for everyone. And I don’t think that is the case. Each one of us has a different story of how we came to Christ and different lessons that we have had to learn since then. Some of us learn the lessons that God is trying to teach fairly quickly. And for some of us it might take years for God to pound a lesson into our thick skulls.

How fast does a person’s growth need to be once they’ve accepted Christ?

So I guess that means I’ve always thought of salvation being easier to attain than some on the lordship salvation side might. After all, It’s really God who does all the hard work and heavy lifting in the salvation process anyway, right? Paul seems to be driving home the point over and over again that salvation is all about simple faith in Jesus Christ. He atones for all our sin, past, present, and future. Am I truly saved simply because I don’t have as many future sins as someone else might?

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